Light Therapy for Sleep
What is Bright Light Therapy for Sleep?
Light therapy treatment can help manage circadian rhythm disorders and other sleep disorders, such as delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS). With bright light therapy for sleep disorders, sleep specialists will work to help shift an abnormal sleep pattern to one that is considered more normal.
What light helps you sleep?
Light therapy generally uses brighter light than indoor lights but is not as bright as robust and direct sunlight. Additionally, bright light treatment does not use ultraviolet, full-spectrum, heat, or tanning lamps. Instead, the light that helps you sleep is a light therapy box that emits a bright light similar to natural sunlight. Bright light therapy extends to many sleep disorders, including jet leg light therapy, light therapy for depression, and more. Some of the common health conditions that may be treated by bright light therapy include:
- Circadian rhythm sleep disorder
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Jet lag
- Night shift schedules
- Alzheimer's disorder
- Some types of dementia
For many sleep disorders, the timing of light therapy is essential. People have reported success for some circadian rhythm disorders when the bright lights turn on shortly after waking up. This will simulate the dawn, and the morning light may help the individual wake up.
Many specialists recommend using light therapy for insomnia for at least 30 to 90 minutes. This light can be artificial such as a 10,000 lux spectrum circadian light therapy lamp or a designated lightbox sleep therapy lamp. Or, natural outdoor light can be used if it is available at the right time and intensity. Yet, longer and properly timed exposure is typically better to help with sleep problems.
Sleep specialists will work with those who have trouble sleeping and will help to shift their sleeping periods to earlier times. Once the desired sleep schedule has been achieved, those who attended bright light therapy for sleep disorders must maintain their sleep schedule. Doing so ensures they continue to experience the light therapy benefits.
By using bright light therapy for sleeping disorders, individuals may reset their circadian rhythms, otherwise known as their biological clock. Alongside light therapy, there are also many other ways to try to fix your circadian rhythm.
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Why Use Bright Light Therapy: Evaluating Effectiveness of Insomnia Light Therapy
Your circadian rhythm is in charge of helping your body feel tired and alert at appropriate times during the day. It's an essential system that must be maintained for individuals to fall asleep at night and stay awake during the day. However, some people experience problems with their sleep cycles and may need bright light therapy to help them regulate their natural sleep cycle.
Light therapy works by exposing your eyes to the light that resembles sunlight. This will help regulate your circadian rhythm and align it with the patterns of the sun. During a light therapy session, your eyes will perceive light from a light therapy box and affect the brain's chemicals responsible for regulating your sleep and wake cycle. These chemicals, melatonin and serotonin, will significantly help realign your sleep schedule.
Research in Light Therapy for Sleep
Many research studies have looked at the effectiveness of light therapy on numerous health conditions. While some research studies have shown that bright light therapy for sleep is somewhat inconclusive, there are light intensities and patterns that researchers have noticed.
One study that looked at 53 studies with 1154 participants found that higher light intensity studies had more significant impacts on participants. Additionally, the researchers concluded that light therapy is effective for general sleep problems, circadian rhythm disorders, and insomnia.
Another study specifically looked at how light therapy can help those who worked the night shift develop a more appropriate sleep schedule. Because the night shift has been shown to negatively impact a typical circadian rhythm and overall health, this is an area that can significantly benefit from light therapy research.
The Department of Nursing at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan conducted a randomized control study. Female hospital nurses were exposed to bright light therapy to see if it impacted their insomnia and mental health symptoms.
Compared to the control group that was not treated with bright light therapy, those who did receive the treatment showed drastic improvements in their sleep disturbances and mental health. In conclusion, the researchers found that female nurses who have insomnia could improve their sleep problems and mental health symptoms through bright light therapy.
What are the Side Effects of Light Therapy?
Circadian rhythm light therapy is typically safe and can be used alongside other treatments for sleep disorders. For example, those who experience seasonal affective disorder may have periods of depressive symptoms that could also be treated through medication and therapy.
There are some general symptoms and side effects of using light therapy to help sleep. Luckily, many of these symptoms are mild and can be relieved by spending less time under the bright lights or taking over-the-counter pain medication. If an individual does have sensitive eyes or skin, they may need to consult their doctor before trying light therapy. Regardless, the common symptoms include:
- Visual disturbances
In many cases, light therapy can help regulate your sleep cycle and symptoms in just a few days. However, it may take up to two or more weeks for those who have more severe cases of sleep disturbances to experience the benefits. Regardless, it's crucial to track your symptoms in progress to find the suitable duration and intensity for your brake light therapy.
About the Author
Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.
You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.
About Carex Health Brands
Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.
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